I haven’t read any novels from the Tales of Five Hundred Kingdoms but I do love a fairytale (and one written for adults!) so I just couldn’t resist when I saw this available to review on Netgalley.
In the beginning of this fairy tale we get to know Bella’s family and her place within it - her father, wealthy merchant Henri Beauchamps, step-mother Genevieve and step-sisters Amber and Pearl. Bella has taken on the role of running the household since her mother died when she was ten and carried on even after Henri married Genevieve. Genevieve has taken the role of ‘invalid’ and comes across as rather snobbish. Amber and Pearl are the flighty socialites who prefer nothing better than to parade their fashionable clothes and gossip. Bella is very practical and down-to-earth.
Bella is learning the art of herbs and healing from ‘Granny’ who lives in the woods. It is on the way back from one of these visits that she is bitten by the werewolf, who by day is Duke Sebastian.
Whisked out of her bed during the early hours of the next morning, she finds out she is to be a virtual prisoner at the Duke’s estate for three months on order of the King and the ‘Godmother’ while they wait to see if Bella will turn into a werewolf herself.
The Duke’s home is served by invisible beings who have been ‘called’ by the Duke. They are spirit elementals and Bella gets to know the hierarchy as she is organising them. She learns that some of them are intelligent and may know more than they can say about the Duke’s curse. She also organises the stillroom and makes the lotions and liniments. It’s not long before Bella has the household organised! Then in steps Eric, the Gamekeeper. Eric takes her with him while he is catching poachers and trains her to use weapons and how to ride a horse. Eric hides a lot beneath the surface and is an intriguing character. Bella is also learning magic from Duke Sebastian and she realises she has a lot of power.
There are so many things I enjoyed on this magical journey. Granny – every fairy tale has to have a wise woman – one who is a healer and holder of wisdom. I think everyone should have access to a ‘Granny’! The ‘Godmother’ who is the highest authority on magic in several kingdoms – she has a vital part to play in the story and I loved her role. The Tradition. Even though this is imaginary … I have often thought in my own imaginings this may in fact be the force behind our world so I loved to see The Tradition shaping lives (or not as the case may be!).
Duke Sebastian is rather self-effacing and just wants to please but as the story unfolds, we see his character blossom into the man he really is! Bella is a very strong heroine. Forceful and demanding but very practical and down-to-earth. She is feisty and unconventional. I loved her confidence. Bella learns a vital lesson about manipulation – if we know we can create our own reality there is no need to manipulate others into providing for our needs.
Beauty and the Werewolf has a climax that I found to be rather exciting … and the epilogue just rounded the fairy tale off nicely and follows the path of The Tradition.
I have to admit that I am biased towards fairy tales, magic and sorcery. This story won’t appeal to everyone but even if you haven’t read a fairy tale since your childhood (or had one read to you!) I would recommend that you pick up a copy of Beauty and the Werewolf and let it take you to an imaginary place where magic shapes the world and experience a beautiful place to reside for a few hours. This story is a wonderful remake of a traditional fairy tale.
Also available to view on my blog - Jera's Jamboree http://shazjera.blogspot.com/